A few warm days and we get spring fever! It’s still too early in the season for clearing yard and garden debris. Why? For starters, we may have more snow and bitter cold before the last frost date, which is usually around May 15. Enjoy the sunshine but hold off on scratching that itch to get some spring cleanup done while the weather is nice. We recommend you wait until daytime temperatures are consistently above 50F for at least 7 consecutive days before you get out in the garden for spring maintenance.
While the weather is warm this weekend, take time to walk around your yard, breath in the fresh air, and maybe even open a few windows. Enjoy the sunshine!
See if any of your bulbs are beginning to break ground. Look for low areas in your yard that may collect runoff water. Do you have an idea for a veggie garden or new perennial bed? Make note of the direction each side of your home faces, and begin a wish list of plants best suited for those spaces. Now is a good time to sharpen and clean your garden tools for the upcoming season.
If you clear debris and trim plants with hollow stems too soon, snow and water can settle and freeze in open stems and near roots, causing the plant damage or death. Plants suffer when trimmed too soon or cleared of protective leaves and debris, and so do beneficial insects. Native bees, moths, and butterflies call these spaces home over winter, and you don’t want to disturb or decimate the pollinators.
Late March & April
By the end of March to mid April in Zone 5, weather dependent of course, is when you can begin to clear some of the debris and prune your perennial gardens. Leaves and stems may be raked out of beds, but leave some for nesting materials for birds. Birds will be hungry and also appreciative of the insects they find when you don’t tidy up the yard too much.
Cold-tolerant perennials such as hellebores can be cleared of old debris. Cut Russian Sage, Butterfly Bush, and Blue Mist shrub back to 6” to 8”, leaving some woody stems for new shoots. Plumbago and Hibiscus are late to emerge, not showing up until mid to late May.
Prune hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora roses back to the green growth and prune out any dead branches. Shrub roses, including Knock Outs, do not need to be pruned.
Non-blooming shrubs can be pruned to remove dead or crossing branches, but do not prune spring blooming bushes such as Forsythias, Lilacs, fragrant Viburnums. These should be pruned right after they finish blooming. Prune fruit trees before the buds appear.
When Can You Start Planting?
You’ll want to wait until the ground is not frozen and the soil isn’t too wet. An easy way to tell if your soil is wet is to squeeze a handful. If it sticks together in a clump, it’s too wet. If it crumbles easily, dig away!
We open for our 85th season on March 27th!
Plants we have for sale in spring have been hardened off and can be planted once the soil is viable. Spring is a wonderful time to use containers for curb appeal. Cold tolerant annuals and perennials can set in containers that can be covered or moved for protection if nighttime temperatures fall into the teens. Once clear of the last frost and the ground soil is loose enough for planting, you’ll be ready to dig in!